Tag:Pitt
Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:45 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 4:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: SMU 28 Pitt 6

Posted by Tom Fornelli

SMU WON. Which wasn't surprising considering the circumstances Pitt was playing under, only having four full-time coaches left on the staff. SMU jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and essentially put it in cruise control from there on. SMU's offense had 315 yards of offense on the day, with J.J. McDermott throwing for 240 yards and a touchdown and Darius Johnson on the receiving end of 7 passes for 121 yards and a score.

Though it wasn't just SMU's offense getting the job done, as the Mustangs defense held Pitt to only 210 yards of total offense and sacked Tino Sunseri 7 times.

WHY SMU WON. The Mustangs just came out of the gate much stronger in this contest, and after building a 21-0 lead in the first quarter they just made sure not to make any mistakes and hold the lead. The defense had a very strong day and the offense did more than enough. Combine that with a Pitt team that seemed to be lacking in motivation, and there wasn't much suspense in this contest.

WHEN SMU WON. When Rishaad Wimbley scored his first of 2 touchdowns on the day late in the first quarter following a Pitt turnover to make the score 21-0, it was rather evident that the Panthers weren't going to provide much resistance in this one.

WHAT SMU WON. SMU finishes its season at 8-5 and picks up a nice win over a school from the conference that it will be joining in 2013. It wasn't a great season for SMU, but its hard to be too upset with an 8-win season as it's not like the expectations were sky-high for the Mustangs this year.

WHAT PITT LOST. It's head coach, a lot of assistants and any desire to play football in 2011. The Panthers finish the year with a losing record at 6-7 but I think most people involved with the program are just happy to finally be able to close the book on the season and move ahead with Paul Chryst in the future. Whether that future is in the Big East or ACC.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Not really crazy, but it was funny to watch this game just for the fact that Pitt was a team that had been abandoned by its head coach for the Arizona State job (Todd Graham) but only because SMU's coach (June Jones) was all set to take the Arizona State job before things fell apart at the last minute.

BOWL GRADE: F. This game was not entertaining. Maybe it's the placement of the game, but it's hard to get up for a bowl game between Pitt and SMU after you've been watching BCS games and the Cotton Bowl and have the title game looming around the corner. Combine that with a total lack of drama and having to see a few too many replays of SMU running back Jared Williams' devastating leg injury (he broke his left femur in the fourth quarter) and there wasn't much about this one you want to remember.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:55 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 11:57 am
 

BBVA Compass Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could determine the BBVA Compass Bowl.

SMU quarterback J.J. McDermott vs. Pittsburgh's secondary

Live by the quarterback, die by the quarterback. That seems to be SMU's M.O. this season with difficulties winning games when McDermott turns the ball over. Obviously you don't want your signal-caller giving the ball away to the other team and putting more pressure on your defense but it seems as though the Mustangs have a particularly hard time rebounding.

Now, the Pitt secondary isn't littered with NFL talent but they've done a solid job this season. They held explosive West Virginia to just 244 yards through the air and allowed only 12 touchdowns through the air against FBS competition. They're helped out by a pretty good pass rush and generally force teams to make it a point to run the ball. Jarred Holley is the leader of the group and should roam around to cover SMU receivers and help support against the run, making him a busy man.

Behind McDermott, SMU has had over 300 yards passing just once in the second half of the season and he had a 6-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the stretch run. Against a solid Pitt defense, he's going to have to step his game up to say the least. The running game has found some success but June Jones playcalling obviously calls for a successful short and intermediate passing game and that will mean McDermott has to play within the offense and not take too many chances because the Panthers can give him fits.

Both teams are better than their record suggests but the BBVA Compass Bowl should come down to McDermott taking advantage of the time off to come out sharp and well prepared. If he's on, SMU should be able to beat their BCS AQ opponent and allow Jones to win another bowl game in a place where those wins are few and far between.


Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:08 am
 

Keys to the game: BBVA Compass Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SMU WILL WIN IF: The Mustangs have no problem throwing the ball around in June Jones' offense but, this year, that has led to plenty of turnovers and they're going to have cut those down if they want to win this game. SMU is dead last in turnover margin - and it's not very close - and throws interceptions as much as they do slant routes (19 on the season). Pitt has shown flashes of being a good team despite their 6-6 record and if they keep getting extra chances to score, should find the end zone enough to win the game. But, if SMU can hold onto the football and the offense is sharp as it can be, a bowl trophy should find its way to the hilltop.

PITTSBURGH WILL WIN IF: Quarterback Tino Sunseri has to step his game up and come through with some efficient drives. Pitt was the definition of average this season with their record, an up-and-down ride through the year that did see them lose several close games and win a few others they could have lost. With running back Ray Graham out, the offense has stalled after going one-dimensional and Sunseri has been making mistakes that just make you scratch your head. The defense will have its hands full with SMU's offense so the team needs the offense to move the ball and limit mistakes and turnovers. Play within themselves and Pitt should end the season on a high note and give something new head coach Paul Chryst can build on.

X-FACTOR: Is either team motivated to be in Birmingham? SMU had their coach flirt with other schools in the offseason and Pitt makes a return trip to this bowl after an average season and their coach informing them via text message that he was headed to warmer climates. They're playing in one of those games in the lull between the title game and other BCS bowls so it's possible both teams come out lackadaisical and uncaring. Add in the fact that just about every coach for the Panthers is either gone or has an interim tag and you don't know how they're going to come out of the tunnel and play. Whoever does come out sharp and executes will likely end up taking home whatever type of trophy BBVA can come up with.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:02 pm
 

PODCAST: Bowl Previews (Jan. 6-9)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Bowl season rolls on unabated, and the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast rolls on as well with its bowl previews. On the show today the guys go over the bowl games being played from January 6th through the 9th, though not that one game that features Alabama and LSU. They'll have much more on that one later.

Instead they break down some interesting matchups in the Cotton Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Can Arkansas' Tyler Wilson have the same kind of success against the Kansas State defense that Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones had before him? Can Arkansas stop Collin Klein and Kansas State's rushing attack? Then there's talk about how SMU and Pitt match up with one another, and about a bowl game that may be a diamond in the rough between Northern Illinois and Arkansas State.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

Posted on: December 22, 2011 4:18 pm
 

Penn St. taking "measured approach" to search

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The numbers at the CBSSports.com Coaching Changes One-Stop Shop don't lie about the speed (or lack thereof) of the Penn State coaching search; 24 of this year's 25 coaching vacancies have been filled, and despite the Nittany Lions accepting the resignation of Joe Paterno with multiple games still remaining in the 2011 season, PSU is the only FBS program still without a permanent head coach.

Perhaps responding to that factoid (and the wave of hirings in the past 48 hours at places like Hawaii, Houston, Akron, and Pitt), Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner issued a statement Thursdayaddressing the progress of the search. Unfortunately for Nittany Lions fans, the statement won't do much to calm fears the new coach won't be in place anytime soon:
"As we head into the holidays, I wanted to share an update on the search for the next head football coach at Penn State. We are continuing to talk with individuals that we're interested in and work through the interview process. As I'm sure all can appreciate, this is a very important hire for Penn State and, as a result, the search committee is taking a very deliberate and measured approach to the process in order to identify the coach that best fits the requirements of the position.

"We look forward to introducing our new football coach at the appropriate time. In the interim, I'd like to wish everyone happy holidays as well as remind all Penn Staters to support our team and its 23 seniors as they compete against the 12-1 Houston Cougars in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on January 2nd." 
"Working through the interview process" while "taking a very deliberate and measured approach" to hiring the next Nittany Lion head coach "at the appropriate time" certainly doesn't sound like the words of an administrator who feels confident he's going to have his new coach signed in the next few days. 

Perhaps even more worrying for Penn State supporters is that even the rumor mill has slowed to a crawl where the Nittany Lions are concerned. After the flurry of initial (and apparently wayward) reports connecting Dan Mullen to Happy Valley, few serious names have emerged or been discussed as anything other than longshots. Patriot-News beat writer David Jones wrote earlier this week that in the course of covering the search, he's "learning more about guys who I believe won't be in the mix in the end than those who will be." With latest candidate du jour Bo Pelini denying any connection with the PSU job, Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements may be the de facto front-runner.

Hiring Clements, of course, might mean waiting until after the Packers play the Super Bowl to fill the Lion head coaching office. Joyner is right that the school's decision can't be rushed, and if the right choice is Clements or any other coach who either isn't available or who they haven't found yet, then it'll be worth the wait. (And there's little doubt that Joyner has difficulties facing him that aren't facing your typical coaching search.) But with Signing Day starting to peek over the horizon and the search looking more and more desperate as well as "deliberate", that introductory press conference still can't come soon enough for the Lions.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Dayne Crist is transferring to Kansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Dayne Crist has once again committed to playing quarterback for Charlie Weis.

The former Notre Dame quarterback who was recruited to South Bend by Weis announced after the regular season that he was transferring from Notre Dame after losing his starting job to Tommy Rees in the season opener against USF. He had been considering both Wisconsin and Kansas, but Crist made his announcement official on Thursday morning using Twitter.



This is good new for Weis and Kansas, as it means the Jayhawks will have a quarterback who is already somewhat familiar with Weis' offense, and it will make the transition easier. Also, since Crist will be graduating this spring, he won't have to sit out a season like most transfers, but instead will be eligible to play right away like Russell Wilson did with Wisconsin this season.

Speaking of Wisconsin, you have to wonder if it's a coincidence that Crist's decision came a few hours after it became official that Pitt had hired Wisconsin's offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to become their new head coach. Crist may have already been leaning toward Kansas before the announcement, but it no doubt had an impact on his decision.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:13 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:13 pm
 

Report: FIU working on extension for Cristobal

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Wednesday night it was reported that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst had become the frontrunner to land the Pitt job. News that was somewhat surprising because FIU's Mario Cristobal had been rumored to be the lead candidate for the position. Well, we may now know why Cristobal's name suddenly dropped from the discussion.

According to the Miami Herald, FIU has been working to sign Cristobal to an extension. In fact, the paper calls them "aggressive negotiations." While I try to get the image of members of FIU's athletic department literally punching Cristobal in the face with contract offers, it should be pointed out that Cristobal did just get an extension from the school earlier this year.

That extension lasts through 2016.

While there's no word on how long this latest extension will be, it's pretty clear that Cristobal is a coach FIU values and really wants to keep around for as long as possible. And it's hard to blame them for it.

The program has only been around for a decade, and its rise under Cristobal has been remarkable. The Panthers won the Sun Belt Conference last season and finished the year with a win over Toledo in the Little Caesar's Bowl. While 2011 wasn't as successful, the Panthers still did reach a bowl game for the second consecutive season, losing to Marshall in the Beef O'Brady Bowl on Tuesday night.

Combine all that with 19 of 22 starters returning in 2012, and it's easy to see why FIU wants Cristobal around.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 9:55 am
 

Pittsburgh hires Wisconsin's Paul Chryst

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It appears we are getting close to Pitt finding a replacement for Todd Graham after Graham left the school to take over at Arizona State.

An Associated Press source with knowledge of the decision says Pittsburgh has hired Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to be the next head football coach.  This confirms a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Wednesday night, as well as several other outlets with sources close to the program. 

The Post-Gazette report says that the two sides are still working on a contract agreement, and that an official announcement could come in the next day or two. Which, we'll admit, leaves a bit of wiggle room. It wouldn't be the first contract negotiation to go horribly awry.

It had been reported earlier in the week that FIU's Mario Cristobal was the frontrunner for the job with Chryst in second place, but it seems that has changed for now. Chryst also interviewed at Pitt last January before the school decided to hire Todd Graham.

Graham took the Pittsburgh head coaching job 11 months ago preaching character, commitment and a "high octane" offense designed to take the Big East by storm.

What was high-octane was watching Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri dodge pass rush from the opposition.  The Panthers allowed 57 sacks this season, easily the most in the FBS, and Graham enraged the Pitt fan base by shifting blame from himself to Sunseri.

Chryst, a former Wisconsin quarterback, has built one of the Big Ten's most dominant offensive units since joining the Badgers' coaching staff in 2005.  This season, the Badgers' led the Big Ten in total offense with 466.9 yards per game and the unit has finished in the top three of that same category every season since 2007.   



 
 
 
 
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